Israel has recorded no new daily COVID-19 deaths for the first time in 10 months, as the country pushes ahead with its speedy vaccination drive. BBC News reports that Israel Health Ministry data showed the country’s coronavirus death toll remained unchanged at 6,346 on Thursday of last week.
The last time Israel reported zero COVID-19 deaths was at the end of June last year, after lockdown measures curbed a first wave of infections. Israel’s outbreak has eased after hitting its peak in January this year.
Israel has the highest vaccination rate in the world. On Thursday, the country reached the milestone of 5m COVID-19 vaccinations. The health ministry said more than 53% of the country’s population of about 9m people had received two doses of vaccine.
BBC News quotes Eyal Leshem, a director at Israel’s largest hospital, the Sheba Medical Centre as saying the country may be close to reaching “herd immunity”. Leshem said herd immunity was the “only explanation” for Israel’s continued fall in cases as more restrictions were lifted. “There is a continuous decline despite returning to near normalcy,” he said. “This tells us that even if a person is infected, most people they meet walking around won’t be infected by them.”
Israel began its vaccination campaign last December and since then, it has been the leading nation globally for the number of doses per head of population.
The country has so far relied on only the two-shot vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. In February, Israel’s health ministry said studies revealed the risk of illness from the virus had dropped 95.8% among people who have had both doses of the Pfizer vaccine.